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Screenshot of torched police vehicle. Le Parisien

Mild sentences for ‘youths’ who tried to torch policemen

Thirteen young adults - all from migrant backgrounds - appeared in court in the French department of the Essonne, to receive only soft sentences for their heinous acts.

Published: December 8, 2019, 8:13 am

    Eight of the “youths” (as black and Arab attackers are euphemistically known) were sentenced to between 10 and 20 years for attempted murder while five others acquitted, according to French public radio Franceinfo. Two agents, Jenny and Vincent, were badly burned, while two others, Virginie and Sébastien, were wounded.

    The group, aged between 19 and 24, were handed light sentences for their crimes of between 10 and 20 years after they had attempted to torch two police officers alive in their patrol vehicle in 2016. They all denied their responsibilities during three weeks of hearings. But Jenny, one of the policewomen, formally recognized one of her attackers during the trial.

    The arson attack on the two law enforcement officials happened in Viry-Châtillon in 2016 in the Grande Borne district, a no-go zone and one of the region’s most “sensitive areas”. The mob of around 20 young adults attacked the officers who had sought the safety of their vehicle.

    Both officers suffered severe burns as a result of the attack. The assailants had broken the windows of police car and threw a Molotov cocktail inside. Two other officers sustained injuries when they were pelted with rocks during the same incident.

    The trial itself was farcical because those suspects who had been heard by the court went back on their statements, or claimed to have forgotten everything. This situation resulted in one of the plaintiffs’ lawyers saying: “It is the law of the street which reigns in this audience”.

    The Advocate General had required 20 to 30 years of criminal imprisonment. Major defendants were actually liable for life imprisonment for their deeds.

    French police unions expressed their shock and anger at the sentences saying that they felt they were too mild. The national delegate of the union Unit SGP-Police Linda Kebbab argued that the attackers should have been given life sentences. Kebbab herself is the daughter of Algerian immigrants.

    “This message is incomprehensible to all police officers. When attempting to kill a police officer, it is normally life imprisonment. Today justice sentenced people between 10 and 20 years for trying to burn humans alive,” Kebbab pointed out.

    “We do not understand this verdict,” said Thibault de Montbrial and Laurent-Franck Liénard, lawyers for police victims of this attack. Liénard added: “The penalties are very light compared to the qualifications selected. It is not up to the challenge: the victims wanted us to show that it is forbidden to touch the police.”

    Attacks against police by migrants have become frequent, leading to a protest against working conditions in Paris in October that was attended by 27 000 police officers from all over France.

    On Halloween night, mobs set fires to two schools in Béziers, causing significant damage, while the perpetrators also attacked police.

    In Grenoble, Limoges or Périgueux, several police officers and CRS received insults and death threats by mail.

    At least a dozen police officers or CRS received such messages in the mailbox, reported Franceinfo. Most were dated December 5, and three complaints have already been filed, but others will follow.

    One of the letters is signed ACAB, an anti-police slogan that means “all cops are bastards” [Tous les flics sont des salauds]. “For every citizen injured on weekends, it will be a member of the family of law enforcement who will suffer the same prejudice and without remorse,” says the same letter,

    Franceinfo was able to obtain copies of the letters.

    It is an untenable situation for the Alternative Police union, which said it discovered “with amazement, horror and anger, a letter with death threats that appears to have been the subject of a mass mailing to police officers and CRS and perhaps to others”.

    The union is calling for an investigation to be conducted and hopes “that justice will be applied unreservedly with particularly severe penalties against authors without possibility of reprieve or any other leniency”.

    In the statement, the union added: “It is true that after the judgments against the perpetrators of the attempted murder of Evry, there is something to be feared,” said one, referring to light sentences of the individuals who attacked the police with Molotov cocktails in October 2016.

    In any case, Alternative Police CFDT has directly alerted the Minister of the Interior to these threats “which require the greatest firmness but also all the guarantees of security for the policemen and their families” it said.

    “It is in this context, once again, that Alternative Police urges the authorities to take into consideration this type of situation in order to guarantee the police a proper pension system and to improve without further delay their living and working conditions” added the union, while demanding that they “stop using the police as the stooges of all the ills of our society”.

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